Abhinav Mukund: ‘I love being the captain’

Abhinav Mukund appears to have been around for long but is still only 26. Among runs these days and hungry for more, the left-hander shared his thoughts with Sportstar ahead of a fresh Ranji season.

Abhinav Mukund flew down to Tiruneveli for Albert Tuti Patriots’ semifinal against Dindigul Dragons in the TNPL within 48 hours of being hit on the shoulder in the Duleep Trophy final.   -  r. ragu

Abhinav Mukund appears to have been around for long but is still only 26. Among runs these days and hungry for more, the left-hander shared his thoughts with Sportstar ahead of a fresh Ranji season.

He has been the Tamil Nadu Ranji captain for the last two seasons. While the last season was disappointing – the State team’s home matches being ruined by rain was among the causes – Abhinav did lead Tamil Nadu to the final in 2015.

Was Abhinav open to captaining Tamil Nadu again? “Of course,” he replied. “I take the job as a challenge. I want to guide cricketers who need help. I do not look at captaincy as an additional responsibility. I like being a leader,” he said.

Abhinav added, “I do not allow captaincy to work on my mind when I am at the crease. When I am batting, I am just a batsman doing his job. I do not let other things bother me. Then, when I take the field with the team, I have a different mindset. To tell you the truth, I enjoy captaincy. And I am available for captaincy.”

He believed Tamil Nadu had the right bunch of cricketers this season. “If you look at the probables, we have some exciting talent in the team.”

On the appointment of Hrishikesh Kanitkar as the Tamil Nadu coach, Abhinav said, “He is one of the cleverest coaches around. He is a calm, calculated person and the right man for the job.”

The southpaw was impressive in the Duleep Trophy recently, his best moments for India Red coming against Green. “I made 77 and 169 in that match. It was a new experience playing against the pink ball under lights.”

Such was Abhinav’s commitment that within 48 hours of being hit on the shoulder by a Pankaj Singh delivery in the Duleep Trophy final, he flew down to Tiruneveli for Albert Tuti Patriots’ semifinal against Dindigul Dragons in the TNPL.

“I had to do it for my side Tuti Patriots and the TNPL. When the physio gave me the green signal, I was ready,” said Abhinav.

The left-hander scored 91 in the semifinal and an unbeaten 82 in the final against Chepauk Super Gillies. “Two years back, I thought batting in Twenty20 cricket was all about slogging. Now I have realised that you can play your normal cricket, be positive, play shots and rotate the strike.”

Asked about his experience with Tuti Patriots, Abhinav said, “The atmosphere in the team was very good. There was a good blend of seniors and younger players. And our support staff, head coach J.R. Madanagopal, assistant coach D.J. Gokulakrishnan and mentor Monty Desai was very good.”

Abhinav said, “The side showed character. We lost three games in a row and then went on to win five matches straight, including the semifinal and final.”

And Abhinav made runs when it mattered. He could not have timed his TNPL performances better.